Have you ever taken caffeine pills?

26.08.2014 08:39

Help the brain on the jumps: coffee yes, pills no

Meike Drie├čen University Communication Department
Ruhr-University Bochum

Neuroenhancement: Known but critically assessed
Researchers examine the attitudes and income behavior of students

Throw in a pill and shine on the exam: Most students know that you can improve your mental performance with drugs and other substances. However, so-called neuroenhancement is only practiced by very few. This is the result of a study carried out by young scientists from the University Alliance Ruhr as part of the Global Young Faculty II.

They interviewed 1026 students from the Ruhr University Bochum, the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Technical University of Dortmund. Around half of those surveyed rely on coffee to improve performance. Only 14 had ever taken amphetamines for this purpose.

Medicines are known to many, only a few take them

In the current survey by the research team around PD. Dr. Jan Schildmann, Institute for Medical Ethics and History of the Ruhr University (Head: Prof. Dr. Dr. Jochen Vollmann) stated 897 of the respondents that they had heard of prescription drugs or illegal psychostimulants as a way of increasing performance. However, only 14 students report that they have already taken amphetamines, such as Ritalin, which is used to treat ADHD, to improve mental performance; after all, 39 students used cannabis for this purpose. Top runners among the substances that were taken with the express aim of increasing mental performance were coffee (574 students), energy drinks (419), nicotine (147) and caffeine tablets (125).

Worry about negative consequences

The respondents tend to be critical of the services provided with the help of neuroenhancement. 548 perceive the intake as unfair. 505 fear that a lack of regulation of neuroenhancement will increase the pressure to take substances to improve mental performance. 620 respondents demand that access be regulated accordingly. The majority of those surveyed (799) consider investments in research on substances to improve intellectual performance to be less important, whereas 751 students consider investments in schools and training to be very important.

Access to medication increases the pressure to take it

"The current data confirm the high level of awareness of substances for increasing intellectual performance among students," says study director Jan Schildmann. "The fact that the majority of users take coffee and energy drinks is understandable with a view to the easy access and social acceptance." The low intake of so-called "smart pills", i.e. drugs for (supposed) mental performance enhancement such as Ritalin, could Be an expression of skepticism in the face of a lack of scientific evidence. The students of the Global Young Faculty demand that the students' concern that with easy access to drugs to improve intellectual performance the pressure to take them increases, even on those who reject such measures, should be taken into account in the social discussion.

Global Young Faculty

In the Global Young Faculty, outstanding young scientists from the Ruhr Metropolis meet to work on topics of common interest in interdisciplinary working groups. The network is an initiative of the Mercator Foundation in cooperation with the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr) and is coordinated by the Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR) in Essen.

Title recording

Cynthia Forlini, Jan Schildmann, Patrik Roser, Radim Beranek, Jochen Vollmann: Knowledge, experiences and views of german university students toward neuroenhancement: an empirical-ethical analysis. In: Neuroethics. 2014 DOI 10.1007 / s12152-014-9218-z

additional Information

PD Dr. med. Jan Schildmann, M.A., Medical Ethics and History of Medicine at the Ruhr University Bochum, Malakow Tower - Markstr. 258a, 44799 Bochum, Tel: 0234 / 32-28654, Fax: 0234 / 32-14205, E-Mail: [email protected]

Features of this press release:
Nutrition / health / care, society, medicine
Research results, scientific publications